The Use of the MMPI in Teaching Personality Assessment, continued
So first you check the validity scores. Scale F is a measure of the extent to which the subject has given responses which are infrequently given by the normal population. Scores of 26 and above are likely to have resulted from marking the responses at random. Scores of 21 are likely to reflect indiscriminant responding to say the least. And anything above 17 has to be taken with a grain of salt. Scale K is a measure of how well defended the individual is. Scores of 10-15 are about average. Anything above that is well-defended and anything below that is poorly-defended, with respect to the admission of psychological problems. If validity scale scores are within reasonable limits, the person’s self-description is probably fairly accurate. In any event, you are probably fairly safe in reporting on his self-description. That is, “just give me the facts, ma’am” and we can perhaps begin to speculate about what they mean afterwards. (I believe that it is very important to teach would-be clinicians to distinguish between facts and opinions, which is what any interpretation of those facts is. Even facts exist only with some degree of probability, but opinions are acknowledged to be not even of the same order of probability. They are much less likely to be correct and should be stated as opinions rather than facts).
Let us begin, therefore, by an examination of the facts. One of the most fruitful places to start making sense of what a subject has said about himself is to see what it was that he said about himself that made his responses similar to or different from the responses given by the patients on whom the original clinical scales were derived, partly because in doing so you will gain an insight into the characteristics of patients with these different diagnostic labels.